Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: "More" by Heidi Marshall

 I'm back with another book review! This time it's "More" by Heidi Marshall.

Here's the book cover, and also the synopsis:
Twenty-something Kate Henry lives a simple life in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. She fills her days managing a bookstore that she loves, spending time with her best friends and their young children, and trying to convince herself that she will someday have what she’s always wanted – a family of her own. Wounded by a father who abandoned her, Kate is desperate to find a man who wants to know and love the real her. The real her who talks to inanimate objects, loves to cook for others, and named her favorite pillow Mr. Darcy. Will the reliable lawyer Ian realize after ten years of friendship that Kate is the one? Will the exciting and spontaneous Ben sweep her off her feet? After facing one heartbreak after another, Kate begins to wonder if perhaps she was meant to be alone. She faces some life-changing decisions, but always manages to keep her sense of adventure and humor. 

My Thoughts:
I originally downloaded this (on my kindle) as the cover caught my eye and I thought the story sounded cute. I really wanted to connect with Kate, but sadly I was never able to feel more than apathetic about her story. Parts were okay, but I found myself a bit distracted as often the descriptions of people and places seemed a bit flat. Not bad or wrong, just....plain, I guess would describe it. 

The style is straight forward and matter-of-fact so it's definitely an easy read, I finished it in only 4 sittings. Despite not connecting with Kate, I was curious what would happen so I never really considered not finishing. 

One thing that did seem odd to me was the 4 different bathroom stories the characters told for laughs to their friends. I've never encountered this in Christian Fiction before. Most were the type of stories girls will tell other girls, but I just can't fathom these things being sharing in mixed company, which is the way it played out every time. If I had a (girl) friend tell me the stories in real life I'd no doubt find them humorous, but it struck me strange for them to be included in a book, and the guys' presence just didn't sit right with me. One story in particular (that Kate's friend Darren told to her) I found extremely unnecessary and quite inappropriate for the situation; it painted a mind-picture I would have rather not seen.

I had a bit of trouble deciding on a rating, I was hovering in the area of 2.5 to 3ish stars, and ultimately I went with 3, just as a round-up from 2.5. I felt there was some un-used potential, which ultimately left me feeling that while this is an easy read, it's mostly forgettable.

My Rating: 2.5 3 stars

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: Claire's Not-So-Gothic Romance by Bonnie Blythe

My rating: 5 stars!
Claire Parnell has always equated herself with Jane Eyre, being of the "plain" variety of women. Her eccentric mother has decreed that Claire should marry a doctor and settle for nothing less, but it's not like Claire has even had a chance to "settle". When she wakes up at the hospital with a foggy brain, Claire frantically believes she's dying and decides her last act will show her mother she at least "tried" to honor her wishes. Impulsively kissing the first doctor that approaches her bedside--and watching him back away horrified--she soon finds out death is actually not in the foreseeable future. (Unless you count death by humiliation.) Oh, and the doctor she kissed? He was actually only a nurse. Let the humiliation, and this enjoyable story, begin!

My thoughts:
This book was an absolute blast to read! Claire is such a real character, I could totally relate to her. I loved how she acted when Sam (the nurse) kept showing up everywhere, her actions were so realistic and humorous. Claire's eccentric mother is completely strange and adds tons of awkward humor. Sam was also a great character, his relentless pursuit of Claire was very charming. It was cool to see that such a nice guy can come from a rough background. 
Being a fan of Gothic romance novels, Claire has a very wide vocabulary and often uses large and obscure words to convey her feelings--both in her speech and also in her thoughts. It took me about the length of the first chapter to get accustomed to her "voice" and use of such words... by that point I had gotten so sucked into the story that it no longer mattered. Some of the words gave me a chance to use the dictionary feature on my kindle, which always makes me feel rather cool. :)
Though a totally fun and light-hearted read, there are some tougher issues tackled here as well, such as a Christian dating a new believer with a past that's not so pure. This is something I haven't seen a ton of in Christian fiction, but I have to applaud the author for her delicate and appropriate handling of the issues. There were several twists that caught me off guard and left me saying "Really!?", but it kept things fresh and several times had me staying up way too late to read "just a little more!"
This is the first book by Bonnie Blythe that I've read, and I have to say I'm impressed. If you're a fan of Christian chick-lit/romance, do yourself a favor and check this one out. It's just too fun of a story to let slip by!
My rating: 5 stars! 

As of this writing, Amazon's price for the kindle version of this book is only $1.00, an absolute steal for such an entertaining book! :)